By Mark Kurlyandchik
Since finally receiving her unemployment in late April, Simone Green has been collecting $760 a week while not working her job as a training server at Buddy’s Pizza downtown.
Buddy’s reopened for dine-in service June 8 with the state-mandated regulations aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19 in place, but Green is in no rush to get back to work.
“I would make $760 in two days,” said the 54-year-old lifelong Detroiter and front-of-house restaurant veteran. “So for others who have political power to say that we don’t want to go back to work — that’s a lie. I’m not staying home for my $760. I’m staying home because it’s not safe!”
With Michigan’s dining rooms slowly beginning to reopen across hard-hit metro Detroit after a three-month COVID-induced hibernation, the dawn they’re waking up to is casting fresh light on the issues that have long-plagued the restaurant industry, namely the way it treats front-line staff.
As Michigan’s 350,000 laid-off hospitality workers begin returning to work, some are questioning why they’re being called back so quickly during a health crisis when benefits like quality health care and paid sick leave are rarely made available to them.
And while business owners and lobby groups have had a say in how the state reopens through committees and political might, some service workers feel like their concerns aren’t being heard.